New Delhi: Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan has denounced the derogatory remarks made by his cabinet colleague M.M. Mani against the activists of Pembilai Orumai, an all-woman collective of tea plantation workers in Munnar.
"Pembilai Orumai in Munnar was a collective movement of women. It's not proper to make derogatory remarks against it," Pinarayi told reporters here even as the leaders of the women's group staged a strike in Munnar seeking apology from the minister. Pinarayi said he would discuss the issue with Mani.
CPM state secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan also said that Mani's comment was improper. He said the party will seek an explanation from the minister on the matter.
"The party does not agree with such statements. We will examine the context under which he made the remarks," Kodiyeri said in Kozhikode.
In a lewd remark, Mani Saturday alleged that immoral activities had taken place in the forests near the protest venue during the month-and-a-half strike staged by Pembilai Orumai in 2015.
Mani expresses regret
After his remark kicked up a controversy, Mani regretted the incident and said his comments were misconstrued. "Pembilai Orumai's strike was notable. Most of the participants were comrades. TV channels aired an edited version of my comments. I'm sad that my comments were misinterpreted," the minister said.
Protest in Munnar
Mani's comments caused tense moments in Munnar with Pembilai Orumai workers staging a protest in the town. The movement's leader Gomathy Augustine broke down in tears when she sought apology from the minister for insulting womanhood. The police tried to remove the protesters who blocked road. Mani's remarks drew ire from within and outside the CPM.
While opposition leader Ramesh Chennithala demanded that a case be registered against Mani for insulting women, CPM leaders P.K. Sreemathi and T.N. Seema said the minister shouldn't have made such remarks.
Chennithala said Mani should be removed from the cabinet.
BJP state president Kummanam Rajasekharan said Mani who hurls abusive words at everyone is an insult to Kerala.